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Legislative Assembly briefs
MLAs call for five-year ban on candidacy after violent offence

Kirsten Fenn
Northern News Services
Friday, March 3, 2017

MLAs are recommending anyone convicted of a violent offence under the criminal code should be ineligible to become a member of the legislative assembly for a period of five years.

The recommendation came Tuesday when members of the Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures presented a report on their review of members' conduct guidelines. In December, the local YWCA chapter urged the standing committee to consider a limitation on candidates who have been convicted of domestic violence or threats of violence.

Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green said Tuesday that members of the public advised the committee to make such a recommendation "in reference to epidemic levels of family violence in the NWT," which are second-highest in the country.

The five-year limitation would not be retroactive.

"Our report is focused on improving accountability into the future," said Green.

Deh Cho MLA Michael Nadli pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm against his wife in June 2015, after an incident in Fort Providence a few months earlier.

Nadli was elected as an MLA again that fall, after serving just eight days of his 45-day sentence.

ATIPP changes coming

The GNWT is making headway on updates to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Justice Minister Louis Sebert announced Tuesday the government will have a proposal to amend the act completed by spring.

"Since the act came into effect in 1996, there have been a number of changes in Canadian policies, practices and legislation related to access to information or protection of privacy," Sebert said.

Although changes were made again in 2004 and 2005, "further changes are required to the act to respond to changes in technology and a variety of other issues," he said.

Sebert has previously suggested changes could be coming to fees for filing access to information requests, which cost $25.

A privacy framework will also be created by the spring, which is meant to guide GNWT staff on how to follow the act.

Staff currently receive face-to-face training on the ATIPP Act, Sebert said, but some of that training will be moving online this month.

Budget talks near end

MLAs had just three departmental budgets left to review as of yesterday morning.

Members had yet to go over the Departments of Executive and Indigenous Affairs, Finance and the legislative assembly.

On Wednesday, question period centred around climate change before members waded through similar issues during the Environment and Natural Resources budget later that afternoon.

They had questions about carbon taxes and whether the Northern context will be taken into consideration during talks with the federal government.

MLAs also questioned how the government will balance the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also lending support to the economy through the NWT's mining sector. The leaders have so far deferred every department in the process of their budget review.

At the beginning of February, Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh MLA Tom Beaulieu told Yellowknifer MLAs planned to defer departmental budgets and go back to consider approving them later.

A majority of MLAs have presented opposition to the proposed budget.

Beaulieu told Yellowknifer the house can't be closed down this month without approval of the budget.

MLAs will have to go back through the departments and conclude them before a vote can be taken on whether to pass the budget.

MLAs are scheduled to sit until next Friday.

Their next sitting after the budget session is scheduled to begin May 25.

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